As I was surfing the BBC headlines this week, a tiny little article caught my eye; The Soul Of The Rose. It’s a small awareness post about how the distilleries in Pakistan that have been making rose oil for hundreds of years, are in sharp decline.
The reason is simple; chemical perfumes imitating rose scent.
On the surface, it’s a simple sad story about commercial industry taking over family run businesses in order to fore-fill the supply and demand cycle. But, I would like to step in here with a slightly deeper point, which may seem obvious to the therapists out there reading, but is little known to others.
What is in a rose?
Damask rose oil (rose otto) is a beautiful chemical compound, and one of the most complex known in aromatherapy, (Essential Chemistry for Aromatherapy, S. Clark, Page 188, second edition, Churchill Livingstone). According to the perfume math of Bois de Jasmine it takes 4 tons of roses = 1 600 000 rose blossoms = 1 kg of rose oil, which is why it is rare, expensive and incredibly sought after.
Due to it’s famous fragrance, the rose is part of the cephalic family, which means that they can aid memory and mind stimulation. Rose oil is a very safe oil considering the complex nature of the compounds, and at Cornerstone Therapies I use it a lot for people who need to breathe deep, calm, ground and regulate their stress.
Rose has formed the backbone of herbal medicine from the beginning of time to help aid with wide ranging problems due to it’s calming, sedating and antidepressant qualities. Indeed, to list all the qualities that the oil brings to the holistic and alternative medicine chest would take a while.
When mixed with sandalwood, rose is known as Temple Oil, as it helps aid meditation and I recommend this mix in an oil burner very occasionally but when it is used the results are incredible. There is a depth of breath and rested awareness that I have yet to find in any other combination.
Chemical perfumery will be clever enough to give you the smell of a great rose, but it simple cannot be a rose. There is an important distinction between going to the perfume shop and buying fragrance that reminds you of roses, and applying rose oil with all the chemical complexes that allow your body, mind and soul to be enhanced and renewed.
My favourite perfume is rose based, and I am happy to spritz it on my clothes and enjoy it as I go around doing errands, answering emails and sitting with friends over coffee and cake. But I wouldn’t even consider it to aid my meditation and bible study. For that time of space and clear thought the rose oil really does help save my soul.
At Cornerstone Therapies we use Organic Rose Essential Oil - Otto (Rosa damascena), and at £31 for 1ml, you can be sure I use it with attention and love for my clients! It is steam distilled and unadulterated, so when we harness it in treatments we know we are about to get the best of the very best.
Rose oil is probably the best explanation I can use to linking the treatment of hear, mind, body and soul, and our inner connection with the planet we are charged to look after.